Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Yamaha DT175

Tue, March 30th, 2010

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NOTE: The DT175 was only sold in the U.S. through 1981.

1974–2010 Yamaha DT175
The DT175's reed-valve motor was impressive enough to be considered a competitive race motor when it arrived for 1974. While it is now thought of as a docile trail bike, the power output is actually greater, and spread out better. And nearly four decades later, it remains in production because it is fun and perhaps the most reliable two-stroke motor ever made.
Other than getting a square-tube swingarm in '80 and a disc brake in '99, not much has changed since the bike received a monoshock for 1978. Not surprisingly, the DT does not have the spring rates, travel or rigidity for 10/10ths off-road bombing, but it is surprisingly tough and capable over fire roads and other fairly flat terrain while still being an easy street companion.
Despite the odd mix of racy styling cues and farm-implement components, I love the simple practicality of the DT.
The ancient, air-cooled DT175 remains a popular seller long after Yamaha's larger and smaller offerings have all migrated to water-cooled designs. Why? You can't break a DT175 — you just can't. And thanks to its long production run and worldwide popularity, parts should be available until the sun goes supernova. (The usual deduction for age/unavailability in the U.S.)
This score is for the U.S., where the bike has been unavailable from a Yamaha dealer for 29 years, and the 175cc class is a bit of a no-man's-land: not quite a full-sized bike, but much more than a short-haul neighborhood grocery-getter. In many Second and Third World regions where superhighways are irrelevant, this is all the bike anyone would need or want, and would easily rate four points or more.
It's not state of the art. It's not sexy. But there is still something very alluring about the DT175's competency and sheer 'Rocky-esque' ability to stay in the fight.
If you objectively calculated the perfect sweet spot between economy and performance, practicality and fun, simplicity and ruggedness, you'd find that spot has been occupied for over thirty years by the DT175.